As most of you know, I went to the University of Virginia for undergrad. I have been doing senior meetings at my high school this week, where I meet with my seniors students to discuss post-graduation options and to make sure they are getting all the classes/SOLs they need to graduate before June. Talking with all these students (and having been to UVA for homecomings last weekend) brings back a lot of memories about my college journey.
I don't know what it was about UVA that made me want to go there so bad. Probably the fact that my oldest brother started going there when I was only 12, so a lot of my teenage years were spent going to events in Charlottesville. I also saw how much he loved it, which ultimately made me more and more excited to go there (well, until the pep band was no more, and then his opinion changed). Then as I got older I realized how UVA was more than just a normal college- it was a prestigious Univeristy, with great academics, athletics (more than just football), and social organizations. I quickly became a Wahoo fan in high school and began my life-long view of hating Virginia Tech, but I really had no reason to like UVA so much. The only person in my family to go there was my brother, and my parents (and most of my extended family) were Ohio State grads and fans. I really didn't have much affiliation with the school.
Whatever the reason, I really loved UVA. I wrote in an 8th grade time capsle that I wanted to go to school at UVA, and I know my goal all through high school was to become a Wahoo. I worked hard, and probably didn't enjoy high school as much as I should have, because I had to get great grades to get into UVA. At some point during my Junior year, though, I remember changing my affiliation to Clemson (I somehow got it in my head that I wanted to go there) and began pushing UVA under the table. Then I went on a college roadtrip the summer of 2003 with my dad, and we visited the Univeristy of Georgia, Clemson, Elon, and UNC. After this trip I came to a very important conclusion: Why would I want to go anywhere else when UVA was the most beautiful and prestigious of all those schools? I loved Elon and applied there, but UVA quickly became my #1 again. I applied early decision and was lucky enough to get in.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like had I gone to another school. I also got into Elon and JMU (I applied both places early decision too), and I was also interested in Mary Washington, but Elon was the hardest to let go of. I instantly fell in love with the school, and it would have been a completely different college experience- smaller school, private, and further away. After a rough first year at UVA, not academically but socially and personally in regards to adjusting, I wasn't as happy as I thought I would be for many different reasons. I was wondering if I had made the right decision.
However, quickly into my second year, I knew I had made the right choice. Living outside of a dorm and having a car allowed me to explore more of Charlottesville and feel more like an adult. Every year at UVA was better and better for me, and I am glad it happened that way. I got a broader group of friends, but I also became tighter with my close friends, mainly those in Alpha Chi Omega- my sorority. I was never crazy about the drinking and partying, but eventually I got better at that too and was able to loosen up and have fun. And I had a lot of fun:)!
Now when I think of college, I only think of the good times (but isn't that how it always is?). I don't think about the homesickness, the struggles of my first year, the occasional loneliness, the hard classes, the stress and the drama (though I surprisingly had very little). I think of the amazing friends I met, my sorority, date functions, parties, social events, the classes, fun in the library (yes, it could be fun), the beauty, my awesome job at UVA catering, the roadtrips and how every day I knew I would end up smiling (I know, it's cheesy, but it's true). I also recognize that I would have been happy at many other colleges and that UVA wasn't the only right college for me. But I know that going there was the best decision I have ever made.
This past weekend at homecomings, my closest friends from near and far (NYC, Florida, San Francisco) came to UVA and we all got to spend the weekend together. We went wine tasting, shopped and ate on the corner, tailgated and partied and enjoyed the beauty and environment that is UVA. One of my friends and I reminisced while walking home from the football game about how we miss just about everything about the University. I think I will always miss what I had at UVA, but I know it was more than just the school- it was the amazing friends that I made that made my college experience what it was. In some ways I glad it's over, because I know it was only as special as the people I met there and couldn't last forever, but I know I will always miss that time in my life. Ultimately, though, UVA brought me to where and who I am today. I love who that is.
I feel honored to have gone to UVA, and only hope that my students can have the kind of college experience I did- where ever their paths lead them.
But, as for me, God bless Mr. Jefferson's University.